Cleverly Accused Of 'Having A Laugh At Taxpayers' Expense' After £165k Rwanda Flight

The home secretary's 24-hour trip to Rwanda failed to land online.
James Cleverly, home secretary, spent £165,000 on a flight to Rwanda – and people are not happy about it online.
James Cleverly, home secretary, spent £165,000 on a flight to Rwanda – and people are not happy about it online.
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

The new revelation that James Cleverly spent more than £165,000 on a flight to Rwanda last year launched a wave of backlash across social media.

The home secretary used a private jet for a one-day round trip to Rwanda’s capital of Kigali in December solely to sign a legally-binding deportation deal.

According to the Guardian, Cleverly took members of his private office, a few civil servants, a photographer and a BBC TV crew.

This news comes weeks after it was revealed the government was planning on spending £1.8 million on each of the first 300 asylum seekers it deports to the east African country.

So far the government has flown more home secretaries to Rwanda than any asylum seekers, having sent Cleverly’s predecessors Priti Patel and Suella Braverman – and no refugees.

Thursday’s transparency document revealed his £165,561.53 trip also cost much more than Braverman’s in March 2023, which came in at just over £40,000.

Cleverly’s flight came shortly after the UK’s supreme court said Rwanda was an “unsafe country”, too.

The home secretary said at a news conference in Kigali that it was safe, and his treaty addresses “all of the issues” raised by the supreme judges.

Asked about the flight, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The cost of the asylum system could reach up to £11bn a year by 2026, and we make no apologies for pursuing bold solutions like our partnership with Rwanda to stop the boats and save lives.

“All government spend goes through thorough due diligence to ensure best value for money.”

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: “Having clearly decided that committing £600m of taxpayers money to the Rwandan government for just 300 refugees wasn’t insulting enough, the home secretary decided to blow £165,000 on a flight to sign off on the hare-brained scheme.

“This government’s enthusiasm for wasting taxpayers’ money knows no bounds.”

The scheme is facing further difficulties at the moment having faced seven defeats in the House of Lords over the government’s safety of Rwanda bill on Wednesday.

And, even though the bill was hurried through parliament as emergency legislation before Christmas, the government has now delayed it until after Easter.

So, this latest news about Cleverly’s journey to Rwanda did not fly on social media ...


What's Hot